x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Swimmer links continents for UN's sake

Marcos Diaz, who is crossing from one continent to another to raise awareness for the United Nations Millenium Development Goals, has arrived in Egypt.

Marcos Diaz completes the second leg of his mission after swimming from Asia to Africa.
Marcos Diaz completes the second leg of his mission after swimming from Asia to Africa.

AMMAN // Marcos Diaz, who is swimming from one continent to another to raise awareness for the United Nations Millenium Development Goals (UNMDG), has arrived in Egypt on the second leg of his mission after linking Asia with Africa. Diaz, 35, a Dominican Republic national and an Ultra Distance Open Water swimmer, swam from Aqaba in Jordan to Taba in Egypt on Thursday, crossing the 18km distance in just under five hours.

He was greeted by a throng of 200 people including a traditional Bedouin band, whose members ululated, sang and played the hand drums. Diaz said his trip is part of his attempt to become the first man to swim to each of the five continents of the world. The UN launched the goals programme in 2000 and hopes that they would be fulfilled by 2015. Some of the goals include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promote gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating diseases such as HIV/Aids, ensuring environmental sustainability, and creating global partnerships for development.

Later in the day, he returned to Jordan using more traditional modes of trasportation: taking a boat to Aqaba before returning to Amman by car. His purpose, according to his website, is to urge people to act and demand "that our leaders deliver their promises by 2015". Diaz told reporters in Amman "that swimming between the five continents is to show that the world in not that far apart". "We checked the maps, and we found that it is possible to cross five continents and presented it to the UN. This is happening at an important time for the MDGs as this summer marks the 10th anniversary of the MDGs," he was quoted in Jordan Times as saying.

Diaz, who has been swimming since he was six years old to combat chronic asthma, began his mission last month by crossing the border of Papua New Guinea to Indonesia, swimming 19.5km in 4 hours and 18 minutes. He still has two more destinations. Next month, he is scheduled to cross from Africa to Europe, swimming from Morocco to Spain. In August, he will swim from Russia to Alaska. smaayeh@thenational.ae